The Drop - Are you doing something desperate? 3 stars

"There are some sins that you commit that you can't come back from no matter how hard you try" - Bob Saginowski

Walking into the cinema...
This was James Gandolfini's last film and seems to be in his a good finish for his career. Portraying a Brooklyn bar owner that finds himself mixed up with Chechnyan money laundering racket. It is Gandolfini's last, but the film seems to belong to Tom Hardy. The buzz about this film is beyond tantalising, but it is best to reserve judgement until after seeing the film. 

Cinematic value: 4.5 stars      Family value: 1.5 stars      Overall rating: 3

The Drop is set in a seedy Brooklyn bar. The bartender, Bob Saginowski (), seems to live a routine life of taking care of customers, reporting to the owner, Marv (), closing down the local pub and walking home each night. But not all is how it seems, the bar is a front for "money drops" for local gangsters, Bob and Marv are cousins that have their own sorted history that unfolds throughout the film and Bob has a knack for coming to the aid of anyone or anything that needs his help. The story begins to excelerate when the cousins find themselves at the centre of a robbery gone bad. After the robbery, the neighbourhood's history begins simultaneously entwine and unravel itself. A police investigation, gangster's expectations and a dark love story between Bob, Nadia () and a dog named Rocco. What seems like typical, dark Brooklyn tale of woe, turns into a masterfully twisted narrative of intrigue. 
 (Bullhead) does a brilliant work in directing this perfect cast of actors. The film is a slow-burn drama that twists itself to the point of appealing discomfort. The brilliance of the film comes through the unassuming saviour-like style of Tom Hardy. His performance and the self-effacing backdrop of Brooklyn help the many layers of the story to unfold with deception, manipulation and salvation adding to the depth of the seemingly simple script. The humble character of Bob is refreshing in today's cinematic landscape. Through his care and sacrifice, Bob shows that he is willing to put others needs before his own, even though some of the choices he makes are not comfortable or comforting to all involved. Noomi Rapace continues to go from strength to strength with her recent roles. As the tough, but fragile Nadia, Rapace adds a spark that increases the smoulder of the story without being an overly sexualised love interest. The love story between Bob and Nadia conveys an innocence, but a surprising maturity that occurs through the rescue and care of the puppy, Rocco. As Gandolfini's last role, it could be debated that he is under-utilised in a supporting role, but that discussion would be unnecessary. He proves to be a perfect fit for this role. He brings the toughness of Brooklyn and an understated, vulnerability to his character. He and Bob have to contend with Chechnyan gangsters, psychotic ex-boyfriends and double crossed thieves which involves a certain level of violent tension, but true tension of the film is found in the story that unravels in the lives of the central characters. All this laid against the backdrop of life in Brooklyn causes some uneasiness, but is necessary for effective direction of the film. 
Putting the violence and the language to the side, The Drop  is a well told story of sacrifice and care for others. Bob Saginowski is the anti-hero with no sign of arrogance. His quietly, heroic position in people's lives is portrayed effortlessly by Hardy. He conveys the unassuming saviour with a questionable, moral centre. Bob's humility comes through his willingness to go to extreme measures to care for others. The central character is well acted and the story goes deeper and is more twisted at every turn which could lead to a dissatisfaction with the ending, but Roskam manages to tie off the loose ends with surprisingly effective results. The Drop is a hidden gem on this years cinematic landscape. 
This film deserves one of the highest quality ratings of the season, but suffers from extreme depictions of violence, language and adult themes. To diminish or eliminate these elements would cause the realism and artistry of the story to suffer, but it should give caution for anyone with a weak constitution. This film is suited for those who will relish in  the rawness of the storyline for the sake of artistic style and understand that it is tailored for an adult audience.  

Leaving the cinema...
Having varied expectations going into the film, The Drop was a pleasant surprise. The marketing and promotional pieces conveys that Gandolfini is the lead, but it is Tom Hardy's film. He proves that he is a force on the acting front and I hope Michaël Roskam continues to make quality films in the future. He manages to make a tired bar in Brooklyn into a shining light in cinema. 

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. Do rescuers need to make difficult decisions at times? (John 5:30, 2 Peter 3:9)
2. What is the value of humility? (James 4:6, Philippians 2:3-11)
3. How should we respond to violence? Defined as “physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing,” (Matthew 5:21-22, Psalm 73:6, Proverbs 3:31) 

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews